Intentional Living, Intentional Giving, This Season
20th December 2018
Pause. Take a moment for some personal reflection. Think about how you plan to spend this holiday season. The word 'spend' is used intentionally, as we not only look at our expenditure over the next few weeks (what we buy and for whom), but the way we utilise our time (the type of activities we engage in).
Consider the following areas that often become a main focus during this time:
So, your table is spread and there is a feast of food before you. The tantalising aromas waft around you and already you are delighting in the expectant tastes and the abundance of culinary choices to indulge your appetite.
As we prepare to sit at our lavish tables and relax on our comfortable sofas, a recent study gives caution about overeating and sedentary behaviour.
Frances Mason from the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Health Research states:
"The festive season coincides with public holidays in many countries, providing an opportunity for prolonged over-consumption and sedentary behaviour. On Christmas day alone, an individual might consume 6,000 calories – three times the recommended daily allowance, Christmas is likely to tax even the most experienced weight controller."*1
Instead of second helpings of the foods and beverages you like, how about thinking of a second person to share that dish or drink with? Perhaps an elderly neighbour or someone who is alone this Christmas or New Year. If they are unable to come to your home, perhaps you could share some of your favourite dishes as you visit with them. Thinking of eating less so we can help others, helps ourselves, our wallets and our health too!
Buying extra groceries is another way of helping others instead of just treating ourselves with extras.
Donating to food banks is one popular option and evidence demonstrates it is an increasing need. A 2018 report in The Independent*2 carried the caption: 'Food bank use in UK reaches highest rate on record as benefits fail to cover basic costs'.
Many superstores provide special trolleys where you can deposit extra food items you have purchased, which will go to charities, food banks, homeless feeding projects etc.
There are other ways to give generously over the holiday season:
- Raise free funds for your chosen charity when you do your Christmas shopping via your store card. Here's how: https://instore.giveasyoulive.com/groceries
- GroceryAid donations: https://www.groceryaid.org.uk/get-involved/donate/donate-now/
As you do your holiday shopping over the next few weeks, why not use it as an opportunity to revise your expenditure by spending less on yourself and a little more on others.
Activity and Exercise
The latest Physical Activity Report (2017)*3 from the British Heart Foundation indicates that as a nation, our sedentary habits is negatively impacting our health. The research highlights that large numbers of people in the UK are still failing to meet recommendations for physical activity, putting them at greater risk of heart and circulatory disease.
During the winter months activity and exercise may not be high on the agenda especially around Christmas and New Year. If exercise is a challenge over the holidays, think of an activity that gets you moving and allows you outdoor fresh air.
- So, the first thing to do is work on the motivational aspect. Think about how exercise could benefit you including all the extra calories accumulated through feasting over the festive season!
- Go for an after dinner walk and make up a game as you go along ‒ e.g. count how many red Christmas lights or festive wreaths there are on the doors.
- Walk along your street and post a greeting card or literature which speaks of the beauty of the season or the tenets of our faith.
- Think of a fun activity that you could do outside as a family – e.g. If it has snowed then build a snowman together, make a sledge and go sledging.
- Visit a community centre and help out with the Christmas dinner there.
- Engage in family games that get you moving – pass the parcel not sitting down but running across to the person you are giving the parcel to.
Ministry through service
This Christmas and forthcoming New Year will be the first holiday season my siblings and I will spend without both our parents. As a way of honouring their memory, we have decided that we will spend time in reaching out to others in need, which were key character traits of our parents. Amongst our planned outreach activities, will be volunteering at shelters and community centres.
In an article captioned: 'The Season of Joy….and Loneliness' posted by The Best of Health (December 2017)*4 the article reports that with the approach of Christmas, many individuals will spend the holiday season by themselves. They also highlight research that demonstrates the difference in brain activity of those suffering social isolation stating: "We are social beings, and when this aspect of human life is taken away from us, we suffer."
An additional challenge is homelessness. Recent news reports have highlighted the mounting homelessness challenge and rise of rough sleepers in the capital.*5
- Whilst we plan to enjoy the company of friends and family over the holiday season, why not reach out to someone you know might be challenged by loneliness, depression and loss.
- Visit a homeless shelter to help as a volunteer. Our Church's Advent Shelter programme is operational at the Advent Centre over the holiday season. Why not sign up as volunteer by accessing the following link: http://signup.com/go/vxjhkTV
- Reserve a place at Crisis this Christmas. This enables a homeless individual to get shelter. Visit the following website for more details: https://www.crisis.org.uk/
Instead of concentrating on receiving more during this season, be intentional about engaging in more humanitarian action by reaching out to others in compassionate service.
Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Director for Health, Women’s Ministries and Adventist Community Services
[Sharon Platt-McDonald - BUC Director for Health, Women’s Ministries and Adventist Community Services]